The Grieving Tree Project

The Grieving Tree project provides the participants with a safe space to grieve, mourn, and reflect on their losses under a mulberry tree. Borne out of the site-specific Public Grief Space Project in 2015 by Heesun Kim, the first Grieving Tree event was held at the Lambert campus at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, in 2019. The participants were encouraged to sit under the mulberry tree for personal mourning on their own time. A piece of striped traditionally handmade mulberry paper was provided to write a note for their reflection, memories, wishes, or messages to their loved ones, hung on the tree branches during the event. At the end of the last day, all participants were invited to a closing ceremony, which transformed the individual mourning process into collective grieving with a ritual.

This year, the Grieving Tree event was done virtually, sponsored by the Integrated Therapy and Healing Practices program of the Depth Psychology department at Pacifica Graduate Institute. The event started on June 6th with a live-streamed opening ceremony from the tree site, and participants virtually experienced sitting under the Grieving Tree during the event. The messages to the loved ones from the participants were written on mulberry paper and hung on the Grieving Tree. On the last day, all the participants were virtually invited to the closing ceremony, which transformed each mourning process into collective grieving. The note on the mulberry paper will be sent to participants for their memorial piece for their loved ones.

To honor the sacred Chumash land and the Grieving tree, we have offered silent meditation on the site every morning at 6 am for 49 days from April 19, 2021, to June 5, 2021.

49 morning images by Heesun Kim